Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are used to being overlooked.
The Celtics entered the 2015-16 season with just a single former All-Star on their roster (David Lee: 2010, 2013), which isn’t exactly the blueprint for endearing yourself to fans in today’s star-driven NBA.
Yet Boston prides itself on versatility and depth, both of which were on display in Milwaukee on Tuesday night in a 99-83 win over the Bucks. Stevens relied heavily on his bench in the victory, giving five backups at least 15 minutes of playing time to help erase an early deficit created by his starting five.
Leading all reserves in minutes was Evan Turner, who had quite the night statistically. Turner was OK offensively, scoring 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting, but he added a team-high six assists, five rebounds and four steals while posting an absurd plus-minus rating of plus-32. He also did this:
Turner isn’t exactly universally loved in NBA circles — FiveThirtyEight unceremoniously labeled him a “scrub” in its preseason player projections — but Stevens had no problem praising his versatile swingman after Tuesday’s game.
“He can do so many things,” Stevens told reporters in an interview aired on CSN New England. “A lot of people focus on things people can’t do, but he can do a lot of things, and he does a lot of things well. He’s shooting the ball well, too. He’s a reliable ball-handler, he’s a very reliable defender. He’s a good player.”
Let’s hit some other notes from Celtics-Bucks:
— The Celtics got solid production from their frontcourt for the second consecutive game.
After a strong showing Friday night, Boston’s bigs came to play again Tuesday night against Greg Monroe, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Jared Sullinger tallied his first double-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds), while David Lee and Kelly Olynyk each chipped in 11 points.
It certainly was a good sign for Lee, who got off to a tough start this season but has turned things around since Stevens began bringing him off the bench.
“I had a little bit of a different offseason than some of the guys, so I’m still working to be in mid-season shape at this point,” Lee told CSN New England’s Abby Chin after the game in an interview aired on the network. “I thought (Tuesday night) was a big step forward.”
— It wasn’t all good things from the Celtics’ frontcourt, as Jabari Parker might have ended Olynyk’s life with this crossover in the second half:
— Avery Bradley left the game in the first quarter with a bruised lower left leg and didn’t return. The Celtics guard got kicked in the calf, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett.
Stevens didn’t have an update on Bradley after the game, but the Celtics have taken their lumps so far this season. Marcus Smart has missed Boston’s last three contests with a sprained left big toe, and Jae Crowder left Friday’s game with a knee injury but was good to go Tuesday night.
— Tuesday night was a homecoming of sorts for Crowder. He spent the final two seasons of his college career at Marquette, which is located in downtown Milwaukee and plays its home games at the BMO Bradley Harris Center.
“I know all the ushers here, I know all the people working in the front (of the arena),” Crowder said before Tuesday’s game, via Celtics.com. “It’s crazy. I have flashbacks each and every time I come here because I spent a lot of my time in this arena.”
Crowder received a nice ovation from the crowd when his name was announced in the starting lineup.
Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at TD Garden.